Thursday, December 1, 2016

Apple Almond Cake, Perfect For Holiday Get Togethers....And It's Gluten Free!!

   When I was a kid, there were only three kinds of apples that I knew of, green ones, red ones, and yellow ones. I liked the green ones the most as I tend to like things on the tart side, and I loved our trips from San Francisco up to Sebastopol inorder to pick Gravenstein apples. Gravensteins are now known as a heritage fruit. So there. Back in the day, they weren't that classy... of course there were a lot more orchards of Gravensteins back then. They've since been removed for wine grapes and buildings, so it is what it is. Nowadays, Gravensteins are available around here at the end of the Summer and everyone scoops up all they can get their pie hooks on. So what does this cake have to do with Gravensteins?? Not much except if you can get some, they'd be great in this recipe.

   Every year when apple season rolls around, I'm always amazed at the variety of apples grown around here in Sonoma County and parts north: Cameos, Braeburns,  Pink Ladys. Before I ever heard of Pink Lady apples the only Pink Ladies I knew were these two

Anyway, the point is there are a lot of apples out there. This cake only requires two types  of  Granny Smiths for the filling, and Braeburn for the sliced apple topping. The cake is very simple to put together. The only tough part is peeling and coring the apples which when put together on a list of anyone's problem is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down toward the bottom. The cake is also naturally gluten free since it's made with almond flour.  The best part however is that you can bake this in the afternoon and have it for dinner that night, or even earlier if you don't care about spoiling your appetite.

    Sorry, but I couldn't resist.
    So what besides my love of apples led me to bake this cake? It all started with a platter. A few weeks back I met Mary Jurek of Mary Jurek Designs. I have bought a few of her pieces in the past, and am a huge fan of everything she makes. Our new house is a mid century modern and when we renovated  we went looking for beautiful, clean, simple, modern designs to fill it. Mary Jurek's pieces totally fit the bill. I love things that are simple, functional and elegant, and so when Mary offered to send me a platter with the challenge to make something wonderful to put on it, I had to come up with something platter-worthy. Thus, this Apple Almond Holiday Cake.

Apple Almond Gluten Free Cake

Here's What You Need: 
3 1/4 cups of almond flour
8 eggs (room temperature)
1 3/4 cups of sugar plus 1 tsp sugar
3 Granny Smith apples
2 Braeburn apples
1 tsp vanilla plus 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 Tbs honey
1 Tbs unflavored oil (Canola etc)
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 cup sliced blanched almonds
1 10 inch springform pan
parchment paper
butter for greasing pan and paper

Here's What To Do:
Grease the springform pan.

Cut out a round of parchment paper and fit it into the bottom of the pan.

When it's in the bottom of the pan, grease the paper also.

Set the pan aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the almond flour and the sugar in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Blend them together.
Peel and core 3 Granny Smith apples.
Chunk them up and place them in a small pot.

Add in 1 tsp sugar...

...1/2 tsp cardamom and 1/2 tsp cinnamon...

...1 Tbs lemon juice...

Mix everything together well, place over medium heat and cook gently while keeping a lid on the pan. You want the apple chunks to get soft.
Stir every now and then to make sure nothing burns or sticks. This usually takes about 10 minutes or less.
When the apples are soft mash them to a thick puree.

Set the puree aside to cool.
Meanwhile back at the stand mixer, add the eggs, one at a time making sure each is well blended in before adding another one.

Keep the mixer on a relatively low speed. I use Speed 2.

Add in 1 tsp vanilla.

When the apples you mashed have cooled a bit, add them to the batter in the stand mixer.

Mix until everything is well blended, then set aside.
Peel and slice the Braeburn apples into 1/4 inch thick wedges.

In a small skillet heat the honey and oil together.

When they are blended together and warm, add in  the Braeburn apple slices.

Cook them gently, turning them very now and then so they are well coated with the honey and oil.
When they are coated, take the skillet off the heat and add in the 1/2 tsp of vanilla.

Pour the cake batter into the springform pan.

Scatter the top with the sliced almonds.

Take the Braeburn apple slices and arrange them in a pinwheel shape in the center of the cake.

Take the juices from the skillet and drizzle them over the top of the cake.

Put the cake pan on the center rack of the oven.

Bake for about 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Check the cake at the 35 minute mark. If it's getting too brown you may cover part of it with some foil to protect it. I've never had to do this but every oven is different.
Take the cake out when it's done, and set the pan on a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes before you remove it from the springform pan.
I placed the cake on Mary Jureks' beautiful scalloped metal platter, it was like they were made to be together.

We served it up plain,  but if you wish you can top it with a bit of lightly sweetened whipped cream.

Coming up next....a great recipe from a very unexpected source. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Greta Garbanzo and The Secret of Vegan Marshmallows. Fast, Simple, and Above All Easy!

marshmallows, vegan , aquafaba
   I've never been a big lover of marshmallows. When I was a kid we toasted them on sticks at CYO camp, as a girl scout we learned to make S'mores, and of course all those Thanksgiving and Easter dinners when someone would serve me a casserole of sweet potatoes dotted with baked marshmallows. So marshmallows haven't been on my mind in a long long time.
   For a year or so, I've been working on the gluten free menu for the new CocoaPlanet Chocolate Factory and Tasting Room here in Sonoma. This is a totally gluten-free establishment as the owners, the McKibbens are themselves gluten-free. They got me involved because even though I am not gluten intolerant a lot of my friends are, and I have a long history of cooking and baking gluten-free food using my own flour blends . So in between my regular work as a screenwriter, I've been turning out and testing recipes for cakes and cookies, scones and pies, and donuts. all to be used in CocoaPlanet's certified gluten free menu.
   One of the best things about CocoaPlanet is their great hot chocolate, and the other day Anne McKibben, the owner, asked me if I could come up with some marshmallows  that could be made without corn syrup and to serve on top. So after a few failed experiments I came back with these. They're easy, this recipe makes a ton of them, and you can make them in any shape you desire. Also, they're vegan and ready for your cocoa or sweet potato casserole in less than an hour. A few simple easy to find ingredients and you're golden.

   These marshmallows use Aquafaba, (aka bean water) which I have been working with over the past year. I first heard about it from my friend Sanjana who runs a killer vegetarian website over in the UK. When At first my reaction was ...Uh NO!  Bean water? You gotta be kidding me. No way. But as I was curious I decided to give it a whirl and boy howdy! What a great idea! This stuff doubles for egg whites in nearly everything, requires far less sugar to prepare, tastes delicious and you can use the beans for hummus. So after a year plus working with this Aquafaba stuff I have developed a whole bunch of dessert recipes and am thinking of writing a book. So without further ado, just in time for cold weather...marshmallows!


Here's What You Need:
The liquid from one 16 oz can of no added salt garbanzo beans
1/2 cup plus !/8 cup of caster (bakers) sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp xanthan gum (available at most markets )
a pinch of salt
1 cup of cornstarch
1 cup of powdered sugar

Here's What To Do:
Drain the liquid from the can of garbanzos.

You should have about 3/4 of a cup. Save the beans for another use.
Pour the liquid into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a balloon whisk.

Beat on medium speed for four minutes.

It will start to get nice and foamy.
Kick the speed up to the highest setting and add in the other ingredients gently, and one at a time
xanthan gum...



...and salt.
Beat  everything for about 10 minutes. It will turn glossy and stiffen up.

After 10 minutes turn the mixer off. This is what you'll have.

Now there are many ways to take this from here...different shapes, sizes etc..but since these are destined to go floating on top of hot chocolate I thought I'd pipe them into shapes that look like whipped cream.

Next step:

Set your oven to 200 degrees and cover a cookie sheet(s) with a silpat or parchment paper.
Place the marshmallow fluff (yes if you want you can make Fluffernutter sandwiches with this right now. Since I'm not late stage Elvis and my mission was marshmallows I got out my piping device. I don't do well with bags ( I've used them and it's not pretty) so a few years back I purchased this device which can be run thought the dishwasher and has many piping heads.
Fill whatever device you like to use with the marshmallow fluff...

...and start piping away.

You will get a lot of marshmallows...A LOT!

When the oven is up to speed, pop them in.

Bake them for 20 minutes and then remove them.

Whoops one fell over!
Sift the cup of cornstarch together with the cup of powdered sugar.
When the marshmallows are cool enough to handle, (they cool down really fast) dust them with the sugar cornstarch mixture.

Let them a dry for a minute or two, and then store them in an airtight container. Hey Presto! Marshmallows!

   I must warn you that if you make small ones like these, you will get a lot of marshmallows, but you can make them bigger and fatter and then toast them on a stick. So, next on the colors of Indian cooking, I give a new zester a test run, and something sweet for Thanksgiving. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Friday, October 28, 2016

Burfi, A Simple Indian Fudge With A Touch of Rose and Pistachio for Diwali

   The celebrating season is arriving all over the world it seems. No matter where one lives, this time of year brings with it, family, friends and partying. Of course no party would be complete without the sweets and when it comes to sweets and celebrating, Diwali is right up there at the top. Diwali if you're not familiar with it, is the Hindu Festival of Lights and this year it starts Sunday, October 30th. Diwali represents the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair, While the festival lasts about 5 days, Diwali Night is the night of the darkest new moon, night of the Hindu lunarsolar, month of Kartika. It's not just a Hindu holiday it's also celebrated by Jains, Sikhs, and the Newar Buddhists. So, you get the picture, this is a big deal holiday in many parts of the world which is why some of the best desserts are created and served at this time of year.

   One dessert in particular is popular and that is burfi. Burfi is a  type of Indian milk fudge. It's quick and easy to make and damn tasty. So in the holiday spirit I decided to whip up a batch. I'd seen some gorgeous burfi made with rosewater and slivered almonds so I decided to make some too, only I'd go for a dusty rose color and use pistachios rather than almonds since I thought the dark pink of the burfi would look great with the green of the pistachios. This is a very simple recipe and only takes a little while to make, so for impatient sweet eaters...this is for you.

Rose Maida Burfi With Pistachio

Here's What You Need: 
1/4 cup pastry or cake flour
2 Tbs unsalted butter or ghee plus 1 tsp for greasing the plate
3 Tbs chopped unsalted pistachios
1/2 tsp rose water
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of water

Here's What To Do: 
Grease a large plate with 1 tsp of melted butter or ghee and set it aside.
In a skillet or kadhai heat  2 Tbs of unsalted butter or ghee. When the butter is hot and starting to smoke add 1/4 cup of cake flour and stir it together well.

You want it to have a dry sandy texture. This only takes a minute or two to accomplish. Set the mixture aside.
pour 1/4 cup of water into a small pot.

Add in 1/2 cup of sugar.

Stir the mixture together well and bring it to a boil.

Keep stirring. You want the sugar water mixture to get to the single thread stage. This means that the sugar/water mixture forms a thin thread if you put a drop on your finger...

Okay. There's a note with this...BE FREAKING CAREFUL!!!!!  This stuff is hot hot hot!!! I have been flipping chapattis for so many years barehanded, I don't even think I have fingerprints left... but I was still careful. Of course if you have a candy thermometer that can tell you when the sugar reaches that stage....(what a concept) use that. You won't be sorry.
Once the sugar/water is ready, mix the food coloring into it. I used 4 drops of red, and  2 of blue to give a deep dusty rose color.

Then mix the flour and butter mixture into the colored sugar water...

...and stir stir stir. Add in 1/2 tsp of rose water at this time.
It is going to look at first like a very liquid mixture, but as you keep stirring it will thicken up and start to leave the sides of the pan. When it does, pour it onto the buttered plate...

...and start shaping it into a square.

Take a piece of clingfilm or cut up a Ziplock bag and smooth the surface of the burfi.
Press the chopped up pistachios into the surface.

Even it all out...

...and set it aside to set for about 15 minutes.
Cut it into bite size squares and serve it up! Burfi!

   This snack goes beautifully with a cup of hot chai or coffee. Fast and simple this is a great holiday treat to have at home for visiting guests. Coming up next, I'm doing more easy Holiday/Diwali treats and giving a new Deiss Pro Grater a test run! Follow along on Twitter @kathygori


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